By KEVIN ROBERTS
The 2019 season opener for Southington gymnastics was a learning experience for both the Lady Knight gymnasts and their first-year head coach. Southington (118.85) lost to Farmington (125.75) last Saturday at Farmington Valley Gymnastics in Plainville.
“I think it set a good standard for us to see where we go next with the team,” coach Cassidy Chamberland said. “Even if it wasn’t the exact outcome that we would have wanted, it was still a good learning experience for us to see where we can go from here.”
Sophomore Natalie Reeves had the best all-around score for Southington with 32.6 out of 40 possible points. That was just a tenth of a point off of the best all-around score from Farmington’s Anna Mihalek (32.7). The Indians won all four events, though the margin on beam was just 30.1-30.0.
Chamberland said she thought all of her girls stood out in different events.
“Lizy [Beaulieu] went 4-for-4 on all of her routines, she hit every single routine on every single event,” Chamberland said. “I know she was proud of herself and I was really proud of her as well.”
Beaulieu’s all-around score of 30.7 was second on the team. Kaylin Leifert was next at 28.75, followed by Mychele Vaillancourt at 26.3. Reeves had the top score in each of the four events. Her score of 8.4 on beam was the best of the night by an individual from either team.
“Each of the girls really stood out in different areas and made up for each other on each event, so they all came out in different areas and did their thing,” Chamberland said.
There was also freshman Rylee LeClair, who stepped onto the floor for the first time in a gymnastics competition. LeClair scored a 7.3 on vault.
“It was the first time she ever competed in anything, and she went out there and she did a great job on vault, so we were really excited for her as well,” Chamberland said.
What made the meet easier in terms of nerves was the sportsmanship displayed by Farmington, which was the home team. Chamberland said the Indians want to add another meet, and the Knights just might be up to being their opponent.
“They were really supportive of us and cheering for us when it was our turn to be up,” Chamberland said.
For Chamberland, it was her first time leading Southington as its coach. She was a volunteer for coach Kim Vaillancourt last season.
“It was a little bit overwhelming, but I was really proud of the team,” Chamberland said. “I was really excited that I was able to bring them in at each event and be able to just give them a little pep talk, give them words of encouragement to get them going for their next event.”
Chamberland said she’s happy to be the “voice of encouragement” for the Knights. Chamberland said she was nervous going into the meet, but she knew the girls were more nervous, so she tried to help.
“Just getting in there and reassuring them, [telling them] ‘I’ve seen you girls do this in practice, now I know you can do it in a competition, so now it’s just up to you to go out there and show everyone what you’ve got,’” Chamberland said.
Up next: Southington hosts Hall on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at American Gymnastics in the home opener.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com